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Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

Terry Hail­wood

ON my 50th birth­day, I wanted to try fly-fish­ing; some­thing I’ve long had a han­ker­ing for, af­ter coarse fish­ing as a kid on the canals then spend­ing 30-odd years mess­ing about in boats. I went with a friend to Kilnsey Park, a lo­cal stocked stillwater fish­ery. I brought lots of en­thu­si­asm but no skill, yet af­ter a brief in­tro on how to cast a fly, a trout obliged my fee­ble at­tempts and took my Buzzer - what­ever one of those was… What a run around it gave me. I fi­nally had it safely in the net, fol­lowed some time later by a sec­ond. They were both blue trout; again, some­thing I had never heard off. De­spite the gaps in my knowl­edge, it was safe to say I was firmly sold on this new pas­time. I in­vested in some proper lessons from the ex­cel­lent Jeff Met­calfe and spent the win­ter prac­tis­ing on stocked still­wa­ters with rain­bows and blues, while dream­ing of ex­plor­ing rivers in my quest for a brownie. All the while, I soaked up as much in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice as pos­si­ble. At the start of the new sea­son, I hit my lo­cal river, the Ure, with the now-fa­mil­iar blend of much en­thu­si­asm and no skill. Rivers were a to­tally dif­fer­ent game, but great fun. By the time mid-sum­mer came, I was one of those ‘odd­balls’ not cel­e­brat­ing the great heat­wave of 2018. The river be­came very low and very warm, its elu­sive brown­ies even more re­luc­tant, but I took the view that any time on the water was time well spent, as I was at least im­prov­ing my cast­ing and pre­sen­ta­tion skills. My birth­day loomed but no river brownie had yet graced my net. I had caught a stocked stillwater brownie, with which I was very pleased, but it wasn’t the holy grail I re­ally wanted. I had joined a Face­book group run by the York­shire Fly Guys, which proved an­other great source of ad­vice. They were hav­ing a club trip to Mul­berry Whin on the Driffield West Beck, the most northerly chalk stream in the coun­try [fea­tured in TF 428 and again in this is­sue, p8]. I felt I wasn’t ready for such a sa­cred venue but the mem­bers were very wel­com­ing and en­cour­ag­ing, and the river was ev­ery­thing I imag­ined a trout chalk stream would be; gin clear with a nice steady flow and plenty of fish mov­ing about, al­though they were eas­ily spooked. A chap called Dave gave me some top tips on the water and I set up a ‘duo’ rig, with a nymph un­der a Klinkhamer. I had a solid take on my sur­face ‘Klink’; solid enough to de­stroy the fly, but as usual I missed set­ting the hook. None­the­less, it was an en­cour­ag­ing sign. Re­plac­ing the Klinkhamer, I tried again, let­ting the rig drift back down to where I had seen some fish feed­ing. A fish that I had not seen came shoot­ing out from un­der an over­hang­ing branch and took the nymph with­out hes­i­ta­tion. Sur­prise, ela­tion, re­lief and im­mense sat­is­fac­tion all fol­lowed as I landed my first river brownie at last, and what a lovely fish it was too. I could have hap­pily fin­ished there and then but the sec­ond fish of the day was just the ic­ing on the cake and a mem­ory I hope to keep for a very long time. More fish were rising now, so on Dave’s ad­vice, I tied on a sin­gle dry, a size 16 Tup’s In­dis­pens­able; the very fly Jeff Met­calfe had rec­om­mended at my first les­son. Cast­ing up­stream, just be­yond where I had spot­ted a rise, my cast was ac­tu­ally on tar­get for a change, and blessed with a drag-free drift. I watched the fish rise, qui­etly sip my fly and dis­ap­pear back un­der the sur­face. I tight­ened the line: fish on. There were lots of runs and jumps but even­tu­ally it came to the net. My God: ev­ery­thing worked just like it says in the books… Im­mensely sat­is­fied, I re­turned the fish to the water and re­alised that an en­tire sum­mer’s frus­tra­tion and flay­ing around had led to that mo­ment. Ev­ery mis­take made, ev­ery fly stuck up a tree was all about learn­ing, so that it might all come to­gether for this one per­fect mo­ment. I went home a happy man, my first year in fly-fish­ing end­ing in style. Shortly af­ter I re­turned to my home patch and started to ex­per­i­ment with ‘Euro nymph­ing’. Fi­nally, a Ure brownie came to my net. You can teach a not-so-old dog new tricks af­ter all, but only if he’s pre­pared to learn from his mis­takes and stick it out for the long run.

life. Terry Hail­wood with his first river brown – a true mile­stone in any­one’s fly-fish­ing

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